Video Music – release date June 21, 2020. A concept album. The concept for this instrumental music album is that I typically started with video ideas and then created music to fit my visions. I just guessed that most people, like I do, enjoy more to actually watch instrumental music being performed rather than just hearing it. So I made one long video of the full damn album! Seven instrumental song’s videos visually morphing into each other. It was much more fun to do it this way; with the video platform as the main concept right from square one.
In early May 2020 OddGrooves.com shared a generous gift with the worldwide musician’s community, the Lockdown Grooves Pack. A free pack of drum kit performances by master drummer Magnus Brandell. Being a long-time OddGroves fan I grabbed the download right away and found this pack-of-drummings extremely inspiring for a song idea I was working on. I had already been using OddGrooves for some time, and this pack locked in so nicely with this Phrygian mode instrumental piece. Magnus Brandell plays the drums with a deep understanding of the story-telling aspects of musical performance. Ghost hits, fills, and transitions are not just thrown in at specific points, they are all parts of a continuously evolving rhythm vibe through-out the long drum kit performance. Exactly the type of drumming that inspires me as a player and composer. I felt how my sax and guitar improvisations along this track in C Phrygian came out like “standing on the shoulders of giants”… he, he… in this case the shoulders of Drummer Giant Brandell :-) Thank you, Magnus. Good job!
OddGrooves announced a contest, “to support musicians around the world to go creative during the Corona Lockdown”, and I submitted this instrumental track. A week later I was informed that my piece had won the contest, sharing the highest rank prize with three other submissions.
The Phrygian mode has a certain evil side to it, that I like. Neither minor nor major, it stays in a grey zone that you normally just pass by on your way somewhere else. Much like dusk, the shortly flickering passage between day and night. But Phrygia nails you to the coffin while the same notes keep coming back in ever-shifting series of various configurations. And Phrygian can be extremely dissonant. I think listeners may instinctively experience these characteristics as an instant threat, thus causing the well-known “flavor of evil” we know Phrygian for.
In this track, I’m playing my EWI loaded with a SWAM tenor sax patch by AudioModeling and my 8-stringed *strandberg guitar with a slightly rough flintstone pick through an Axe-Fx-III. I also played the eighth notes based bass line with this guitar. The spiccato strings are from Spitfire Audio’s sampler library Symphonic Chamber Strings. Finally, the virtual drum kit I slapped maestro Magnus Brandell’s MIDI files over is the Superior Drummer 3 from Toontrack.
Filmed with a Sony A6500 hybrid camera. The panning background loop was filmed with a GoPro8.
Software used: VEGAS Pro 17, Sound Forge 12, Cubase 10.5.
My YouTube channel is about original music performed from heart to heart, and the instruments I prefer to play are:
– The Guitar (6-stringed, 7-stringed, 8-stringed, fretless, harp guitar, acoustic) – The Chapman Stick Guitar SG-12 (26,5″ scale) – The Chapman Stick Grand (12-stringed, 36″ scale) – The EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) – The Electric Cello – The Tenor Saxophone – The Alto Traverse Flute – The Sitar – The Electric Fretless Harp Guitar by Tim Donahue
I love all kind of expressive musical instruments and have been lucky to acquire a few, many to be seen in this space-rock video.
The newest is the eight-stringed *strandberg Boden 8 electric guitar. It has a tone that feels almost alive, having strings eventually vibrating into overtones (I’ll make a separate video on this phenomenon as soon as a time window comes around). It’s also great to have access to that lowest octave for overdriven amp sounds and palm-muted percussive notes.
The Chapman Stick goes even lower though, but not with the same aggressively chugging attack. So I use the Stick for plain bass line playing in this piece.
The EWI – Electronic Wind Instrument – is loaded with a symphonic oboe patch here, but it is actually capable of covering six octaves just like the Stick and the 8-string guitar.
The electric cello plays a similar complementary role, screaming out bowed pinch notes for transition as well as dubbing a unison guitar melody. The cello is hard to play in a melodic way, but I like how the sound of it can add depth and emotion to the overall sound of a piece.
The Tim Donahue Signature Electric Fretless Harp Guitar opens the video by fading in a harp-plus-guitar note cluster. Long ago I was looking for a good fretless guitar and found out about Tim’s model with the included six-stringed harp system. I have other fretless guitars and mostly use this one for the lush harp sound. If I ever get rich I will definitely order a second one with frets on the guitar neck, so I can combine fretboard tapping with harp plucking. But for now, this is just me dreaming about harp heaven :-)
Finally, I’m also using the Sitar. It has eighteen (18!) strings where you only play on one, while the rest are hanging in for sympathetic “buzz-tone” resonance. I really enjoy making music with this palette of instruments and strongly feel that this video marks a beginning with a lot more to come.
This album is a live recording of a musical duo improvisation session that took place in Rome on June 5 2009. Fabio Anile plays the Piano and the Synthesizer and Per Boysen plays the Alto Flute and the EWI (Electric Wind Instrument). Both musicians simultaneously play also interactive electronics, particularly utilizing the technique known as Live Looping.
Exceptions are two tracks that were recorded later as a studio based long distance collaboration: Counterpoint (4) where Per plays the Chapman Stick and Bird’s View (7) where Per plays the Electric Guitar while Fabio doubles on Shakers, the Cajun and the Thelevi.
Mixing and Mastering: Per Boysen
Album and track artwork by Fabio Anile.
Unexpected is digitally distributed all over the Internet, but I would advice anyone to check it out at Bandcamp because that’s the only digi music web shop I know of that allows specific artwork for each song of the albums.
The better you become at “improvising” the more you realize there is no such thing as “free improvisation”. Since music is a form of communication the best improvisations are those where the player succeeds in applying gestures that draw on rules known to the listener. Such gestures and rules can be timbre, direction in movement or plain music harmony theory.
I am especially excited by multi lateral improvisation, as I call it when a player improvises many musical parts at the same time – as opposed to simply improvising a melody over a given background. In this performance I use live looping, which means I record phrases I play and then keep changing those recordings while playing an additional part. So there is no “lead” and no “background” part of this improvisation. I do not play melodies and improvise chords to back melody up, nor do I play chords and improvise melodies that fit in. I invent all parts of the music at once. This is not “free improvisation” because in order to sound like some sort of music, although weird, everything has to relate to some common ground. The common ground in this particular performance is parallel transposition of minor chords. In this case using only the tonica, first, second fourth and sixth position transposition diminishes the palette further and creates a musical universe where almost anything can be played and still turn out harmonic.
The looping technique used here is to start out by playing an instrument and recording it as a very long loop. Careful to initially play only notes that will work harmonically even if transposed (thinking not only about actual sound here but also about what scales any given future transposition of the recorded loop may imply). So as lungs go empty of air I close the loop and it starts repeating. Now I use foot pedals to shift speed/pitch of this long loop into different intervals while I play along. Manipulating transposition of the recorded loop is one orchestral element and my live instrument is a second – both elements are parts of the same improvisation. This is a simple technical praxis of what I call multi lateral improvisation. If transposing a musical part in minor you get totally different harmonic scale options for your playing compared to transposing a musical part in major. It can easily become too complex to sound interesting so the challenge is, in my opinion, to find themes and refine them.
Composers use similar theoretical rules to create scores, but to me in this moment of time it is more fun to work out techniques that allow you to do it all at once in sound!
(edit) Since publishing I have received some questions on what software were used in this performance, so here we go: Mainstage by Apple is the “effect rack”, “mixer” and “patchbay”. Inside Mainstage I am running the AU plugin version of the looper Mobius. As soon as the first loop is recorded Mobius calculates the musical tempo I am playing in and sends out MIDI Clock which Mainstage adapts its tempo to. This makes tempo dependent effects follow my playing/live looping. Maybe I should also mention that the video doesn’t cover the extensive foot work done to simultaneously play Mobius from a Behringer FCB1010 MIDI pedal board. There are almost as many looping commands happening as there are notes played in this performance.
The audio sensitive live graphics are simply the iTunes Visualizer
This is the first improvised session, from the “Anteprima” of the “First International Live Looping Festival – in Rome”, that took place on the 6th june 2009 www.livelooping.it
This recording was taken in Florence on the 3th june 2009, at the “Anfiteatro dell’Anconella”.
One night in Mars 2009 I met up with these two guys to play a completely improvised concert together. They had been playing together before, but not with me, so I was excited not to know whatever to expect on stage. It turned out great fun though and someone was even recording it.
We’d like to share these seven pieces that were born on stage that night:
[audio:unitrack4a.mp3,unitrack3a.mp3,unitrack3b.mp3,unitrack3c.mp3,unitrack3d.mp3,unitrack3e.mp3,unitrack3f.mp3|titles=Improvisation 1,Improvisation 2,Improvisation 3,Improvisation 4,Improvisation 5,Improvisation 6,Improvisation 7|artists=Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen,Kristofer Johansson / Niclas Höglind / Per Boysen]
Kristofer Johansson: cajon, snare drum and other percussive objects.
Niclas Höglind: 8-stringed guitar, Apple Mainstage laptop.
Per Boysen: fretless guitar, alto flute, EWI, Apple Mainstage laptop.
An interesting aspect of this group improvisation is that we were instantly recording ourselves and arranging this live looping to go with the bands playing. This was done with MIDI foot pedals and the live looping software Mobius.